Knitting + Tea + Macaron =

 

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My idea of a heavenly bi-weekly ritual.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog it’s probably pretty obvious by now that I’m a huge homebody.  Aside from hitting the hiking trails or shopping for hobby supplies I can usually be found puttering around in my house, sewing, cooking, reading or blogging.  I am a retired stay-at-home mom (thank you to my friend Betsy for coining that phrase), and it seems that after the years of running around according to everyone else’s schedule the last thing I want or crave is another schedule.  After nearly three years in Tucson I’m only just starting to think about venturing out to find some social activities.

So I didn’t actively create this away-from-home ritual;  it was born out of necessity.  Every other Wednesday morning we have our house cleaned.  I intentionally hired a cleaning “crew” so that they could blitz the place in two hours or less and be on their way.  On these mornings I usually feel anxious, not only because I have to tidy up before the crew gets here (we all know that one) but because I have to be out of the house while they are doing the blitzing. Two hours to wander around town.  And since the crew gets here early, the mall and library (my favorite places for intentional time wasting) aren’t open yet.

One week I grabbed whatever project I was working on at the time and decided to find a place to just hang out and knit.  I went over to Whole Foods where they have a large open area with high and low wooden tables.  It was quiet in there with only a smattering of people working on computers or quietly chatting.  It was so inviting.  I ordered a cup of tea and eyed the large display of macarons.  The last macaron I had was several years ago in Paris when I was visiting Anne.  I couldn’t resist and picked out a salted caramel one.  So decadent at nine in the morning.  I settled down with my bag of knitting, my (overly) sweet macaron and my tea.  I watched people come and go and enjoyed the wonderful energy in the room.  I exchanged smiles with people I didn’t know and that was fine.   I hung out there until it was time to gather up some groceries and head for home.  I felt relaxed and in a small way more connected with my community.

So now this is where I go on these Wednesday mornings.  And rather than feel anxious, I anticipate the time, tea and macaron with pleasure.  I’m not sure that going forward my yarn, tea and macaron will always be so color-coordinated  ( I clearly have a need for more red in my life) but I will take this as a sign that the greater world is calling and it may be time to step on out.

 

 

 

A Beautiful Morning Ritual

 

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As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a big fan of Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday show where Oprah interviews all kinds of successful people about spirituality, consciousness and the point of it all.  At the end of each show she presents an “original short” or five minute segment that focuses on ordinary people (as opposed to her famous guests) and their various spiritual and artistic journeys.

This week I caught an episode of the show, and Oprah’s guest was Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz.  His inspiring commitment to running a company where respect and values are central has much to do with the great vibe we all get when we walk into a Starbucks.  In keeping with the “coffee” theme, the original short focused on the importance of morning rituals, and it got me thinking about mine and David’s.

Our morning ritual starts early and is something that we, as individuals and as a couple, fiercely protect. Our routine begins with coffee in our comfy chairs in the kitchen (the same chairs from the crossword puzzle post).  In fact, this ritual is so central that we don’t even have a kitchen table in our kitchen!  Good sweet coffee is something we both enjoy (our favorite is Seattle’s Best Dark Roast) and we’ve been known to take it with us even when we travel.

Cups in hand, we sip, we look over e-mail, we puzzle and we chat.  From my chair in the kitchen I can see the sun come up and I’m often treated to some pretty stunning views.  This morning, before we headed out for our daily walk I took some photos of a particularly wonderful sunrise.  In the photo above, the sliver of moon and one solo star is so lovely.  But the real drama was all to the east:

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Wow. So breathtaking.  By the time we headed out the door for our walk this was gone.

I’ve written already about the great energy in Sabino Canyon, and David and I feel our best with daily exercise, but the most important part of our morning walk is that we are doing it together.  At different times of the year we aren’t able to get out together (too dark) and we miss starting the day connected in that way.  We seldom miss an opportunity to express gratitude for each other and all the beauty that surrounds us.  Once we get home David usually whips up a refreshing smoothie which we enjoy  before we start our respective days.

For us, the morning ritual creates feelings of connection and peace which stay with us for the rest of the day.  It’s a good thing.

A Mini Milestone

On another note, this is my fiftieth (!) blog post.  I can’t believe it, but WordPress tells me it’s so.  I’ve loved putting these posts together and continue to be intrigued by where this blogging journey will take me.  Thanks to those of you out there who read, comment and give me feedback.  I appreciate it very very much.

 

 

 

 

Wanna Puzzle?

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I have a long and intimate relationship with the New York Times crossword puzzle.  An “intimate relationship” ? Really?  Well, yes and I know more than a few folks who will read this blog and understand that statement implicitly.  I started doing the puzzle during my New Jersey to New York City commuting days when I filled my travel time by munching on a “buttered roll” and reading The Times.  Three decades later my gluten-free self will no longer touch that buttered roll but my relationship to the puzzle lives on.  Over the past few years, however, that relationship has changed.

I come by my relationship with the puzzle honestly.  One of my most enduring childhood memories is of my mother doing The Times crossword puzzle.  In fact my parents would buy the Sunday Times on Saturday night so that my mother could do the puzzle after she and my Dad got home from their usual evening out.  Except for asking my Dad for some help with the occasional sports clue Mom did the puzzle herself, and she was (and is) a whiz.   I’m pretty sure that Mom still does the daily puzzle each morning and the Sunday puzzle on Saturday nights.

Fast forward to my early married life. I was a stay-at-home mother with three children all born within five years of each other. Waking early, putting on the coffee, padding down the driveway in my bare feet to pick up my newspaper in its signature bright blue wrapper and settling in to do the puzzle was a moment just for me before the craziness of the day began.  It was a small thing that I did for myself and one of the few that I had time for.  It’s no wonder that I started connecting this ritual with  a feeling of spaciousness, peace and autonomy.  And like my mother, I did not ask for or want help.  It was a solo gig.

As my marriage deteriorated, I clung to this ritual.  No matter what emotional upheaval I was experiencing I could still quiet my mind for the time it took to finish the puzzle.  The structure was particularly helpful during a very difficult time.

A New Way to See Things

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When David and I started dating he had no choice but to be introduced to The Times crossword puzzle.  Why should a new relationship, however intense, get in the way of my ritual?  Since I wasn’t getting off this cloud any time soon, David got on mine.  And he, unlike my Dad or my ex-husband wanted in.  Admittedly I was torn at first.  Every pore in my self-protected body was screaming “MINE!  This puzzle is MINE!!!!” But another part of me knew that it was time to let it go and try something new.  So I did.  And I wasn’t sorry.

Today doing the puzzle is a me and David affair.  For the easier weekday puzzles we sip our coffee, sit together  in our comfy chairs with our laptops and each do our own.  On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, we cuddle up together on one of those comfy chairs and work the paper and pencil version.   David knows the science and history; I know the opera and literature.  And the rest is pretty much up for grabs.  As far as rituals go this one is pretty divine.  As far as structure goes, I know that every morning, no matter where we are, one of us will say, “Wanna puzzle?”

You bet I do.